contradictions

Bamboo Sangha

By Christine Flint Sato

Today our Sangha met at a sake brewery in Kobe. It was destroyed in the Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 and has recently been rebuilt. The brewery has been in the family of a Sangha member for eleven generations. Many complicated feelings and thoughts arose as we discussed the Fifth Mindfulness Training. I wrote this poem.

She whisks and serves us tea,
a pale face in a dark room.
We drink.

We sit.
Earth, fire, air, water
run through our veins,
run through the pipes
and doze twenty days in vast vats.
Every morning they check the face of the sake
and take its temperature—Is it warm enough?
Earth, fire, air, water
pressed in "boats," thick slabs of wood,
and strained through cloths,
siphoned into bottles, large brown or green,
Earth, fire, air, water
and sake.

”producing sake ... a sin ... "
” ... a gift from the gods ... "
” ... those who drink ... responsible ... "
” ... innocent ... throw the first stone ... "
” ... a culture ... mountain water ... selected rice ... "
” ... a way of life ... workers from the coast ... "
” ... a father ... violent ... "
“ ... interbeing ... wood ... workers ...water ... rice ... "

” ... a crime ... ... ... holy water?"

We sit,
breathing incense on the sake air.

A beautiful, troubled eye
under the heavy wooden beams of the brewery.
One pinprick of dark consciousness
filters through eleven generations,

two hundred and thirty years.

We sit.
Earth, fire, air, water
run through our veins.

Christine Flint Sato practices with Bamboo Sangha in Japan.

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